Admission Criteria

The IIMs follow a 2 stage selection process – the written exam (CAT) and the GWPI (Group discussion / Written ability test / Personal Interview). At most of the IIMs a shortlist of candidates is prepared after the first stage taking into account the performance in the written exam, academic background, work experience etc.

Shortlisted applicants are required to appear for the second stage of the admission process wherein they would go through a personal interview, written ability test and/or a group discussion. Most IIMs have now shifted to Written Ability Test (WAT) from Group Discussion (GD) as a part of the selection process. The final list of selected candidates is prepared taking into account your performance in the written exam, the GWPI process, academic background, work experience etc.

Weightage - Various Components of Selection Process

The weightage of various components in the selection process varies across institutes and varies from year-to-year for most institutes. In general, we can say that most of the premier B-schools give high weightage to performance in CAT/GD/WAT/PI rounds and relatively lesser weightage to other factors like academic profile, work ex etc.

At this stage, many students are given to understand that getting a call from an IIM is extremely difficult and converting a call even more so. Through this section we will try to dispel a few myths surrounding the selection process of the IIMs. In the process, we will also share the details of shortlisting at various stages.

Some students have the misconception that even if they do exceptionally well in CAT, they may not get an IIM call as the IIMs give a lot of importance to academic background, work experience, extra-curricular activities etc. Lets take a look at the weightage to CAT in the preparation of Interview shortlist as followed by various IIMs.

Weight of CAT Score List of IIMs
100.00% 11 ( IIM Shillong, Rohtak,Ranchi, Raipur,Udaipur,Kashipur,Trichy, Bodhgaya, Sambalpur, Amritsar, Sirmaur )
60 to 80% 3 (IIM Ahmedabad, Lucknow,Kozhikode )
50 to 59% 1 ( IIM Calcutta )
20 to 40% 4 (IIM Bangalore, Indore, Vizag, Nagpur )

* IIM Jammu did conduct interview round, they directly selected the candidates.

As can be observed from the above table,14 out of 19 IIMs awarded at least 60% weightage to CAT score while shortlisting candidates for WAT/GD/PI rounds.

Note - IIM Jammu did not conduct GD/WAT/PI round, hence it is not being mentioned here. 

Minimum CAT percentiles for getting a call:

It is true that to get a call from IIM A or C a general category student would need a very high percentile in the entrance test (CAT). IIM B and I lay a lot of emphasis on academic background for shortlisting.

The following table shows the CAT 2017 percentile cutoffs for securing a call for the common admission process WAT/PI rounds jointly conducted by the 9 new IIMs

Common Admission Process (CAT 2017- actual WAT/PI cutoffs )
Category QA LR/DI VA/RC Overall
General 80.35 80.4 80.62 95
OBC NC 60.37 60.39 60.45 78.01
SC 50.75 51.67 51.06 60.01
ST 31.54 30.16 30.6 40.01
DA 31.54 30.16 30.6 40.16

The naysayers opine that if you are not a 90% throughout your academic career and do not have a minimum work experience of 3 years, you do not stand a chance to get any of the IIMs. This is absolutely false.Let us look at the weightage to academic background and work experience in the preparation of final shortlists.

Weightage No. of IIMs
Less than 10% 6 (IIM Calcutta,Kozhikode, Shillong, Kashipur, Amritsar,Bodhgaya )
11% to 20% 8 (IIM Ahmedabad,Lucknow,Indore, Ranchi, Rohtak, Trichy, Udaipur,Sambalpur )
21% to 30% 1 ( IIM Raipur )
More than 30% 5 (IIM Bangalore, Sirmaur, Vizag,Nagpur, Jammu )

As can be seen, only 6 of the 20 IIMs give more than 20% weightage to these two parameters combined. For all other IIMs, these parameters are far lesser important than they are made out to be.

As they say, there are things outside our control and there is no use worrying about them. And, there are things we can control and lets make the most of them. If we assume that Academic background, gender and work experience are not really within our control as far as writing CAT is concerned, and only our performance in CAT and the WAT/GD/PI process are what we can control ( lets call them 'controllables'), the distribution of these Controllables in the final selection stands as follows:

Weightage No. of IIMs
100.00% IIM Shillong
80-99% 7 ( IIM Ahmedabad, Calcutta,Lucknow, Indore,Kozhikode, Amritsar,Kashipur)
70-79% 5 ( Ranchi, Udaipur, Bodhgaya, Sambalpur,Trichy )
50-69% 7 ( IIM Bangalore, Rohtak,Raipur, Sirmaur,Vizag, Jammu, Nagpur )

What is amply clear from the above is that with a good performance in CAT and the GWPI process, we still have a good chance of getting into one of the IIMs not withstanding the academic/work ex background. Also, there are many non-IIM B-schools like MDI, FMS, XLRI, IIFT, NMIMS which give substantial weightage to the entrance process and still fetch us excellent salaries. So, before you say you can't, say I'll try and then give it your best!